This study deals with the causes of search traffic growth. We spent 145 hours and 13 minutes to cope with this task.
About the Study
In order to find out if there is a way to guarantee the stimulation of traffic growth, we systematized data on 600 projects that we were promoting over the last two years.
To maintain the maximum experimental integrity, we excluded all projects with very low initial traffic (the growth dynamics of these projects is too fast and can significantly affect the outcome of the study), as well as projects having gaps in analytics.
As a starting point of the study, we chose the traffic rate at the end of what we called "the first stage of promotion": the first stage is considered accomplished after the experts conduct the website SEO audit with further implementation of the ensuing technical specifications.
Data on traffic fluctuations was measured on a monthly basis for each individual project. Relative traffic rate was determined by the ratio between the current and initial traffic value at the startup of the second stage.
Afterwards the projects were grouped by the quality of implementation of technical specifications (it was defined according to the opinion of expert team who were working or had previously worked on this project). Monthly average rate of relative traffic was calculated for each group.
Grading by the quality of implementation:
- 100% of technical specifications are implemented without delays;
- no less than 80% of technical specifications are implemented or have minor delays in implementation;
- about 50% of technical specifications are implemented or have significant delays in implementation;
- at least 30% of technical specifications are implemented or nothing is implemented at all;
We can only imagine how surprised the article readers will be right now. Well, it turned out that in order to maximize the search traffic growth, it is necessary to work on the website. It is not about buying links, manipulating the behavioral factors, seeking loopholes in search engines, but about being engaged in internal optimization.
Thus, the key point, the widely known secret and the only “silver bullet” of SEO - is to "implement the SEO-specialists’ technical specifications." Interestingly, the opposite is also true: if nothing is implemented, then there is virtually no growth in search traffic.
You can see this from the graph below:
Generally, this could be the end of our study, because it is quite clear that if the client’s programmer does not implement the technical audit requirements, the traffic is not increasing, and if he does, it increases fairly well. However, by the example of a good American business book hashing the main idea interminably from different sides, we continue sharing our findings. After all, it is highly essential to grasp the importance of technical work on the website in terms of SEO.
So what's the problem?
SEO market is unique. It has no rules: everyone sees the service in one’s own way and advises client what should be done from a personal perspective. Moreover, we are no exception.
However, we want to pass along one single message to the clients, the one, which is probably shared by the all industry experts: "When ordering SEO, be ready to implement the expert’s technical specifications." We had formulated this message long time ago — before it came into mainstream and before the penalties of search engines became so frequent and fast.
But, is it clear to the clients? Here are the poll results:
As you can see, 28% of programmers are too busy to take part in the website promotion. But it’s great to realize that 34% of them find the time and are working in the right direction. We hope this study stimulates 100% of programmers to become more result-oriented.
So, dear SEO clients, if you want to get high-quality results and develop your business online you should actively interact with a SEO-specialist. While you are standing on the sidelines, you are stimulating the specialist’s "dark side."
Links, behavioral factors, SEO-texts for robots, search for other loopholes - all of this can also be used. However, it will not help survive more than several updates. The project's success depends on the joint initiative of SEO-specialists and the client.
We would like this article to become a guiding landmark reminding of the importance of technical specifications’ implementation in terms of SEO.
Besides, we would like specialists, instead of chasing the client with something like "please, implement this" or "kick the programmer", to share this article’s link with their client. Now, let’s return to our study.
Study in Details
Let's take a closer look at each segment of the study.
At least 30% of technical specifications are implemented or nothing is implemented at all
Analytical data on the projects with poor quality of implementation shows the following:
- Traffic growth within 12 months from the start of the second stage is only 37%;
- It is possible to achieve an 82% increase after 24 months of work.
It is evident that programmers “working” on these projects are not working at all.
About 50% of technical specifications are implemented or have significant delays in implementation
Now let's have a look on a graph illustrating the traffic growth dynamics of those projects, which have a slightly better results of implementation of technical specifications:
- 64% traffic growth by 12th month of promotion
- 162% traffic growth by 22nd month of promotion
Probably, those programmers who happened to be in this segment are very busy.
No less than 80% of technical specifications are implemented or have minor delays in implementation
We got an almost perfect traffic growth chart form a sampling on those projects, where most of the technical specifications are implemented, but some of them are implemented not to the full or not in time:
Averaged data on traffic growth:
- 75% increase in 6 months after completion of the first work stage;
- 130% increase in 12 months after completion of the first work stage;
- 320% increase in 24 months after completion of the first work stage;
This sample probably included those projects whose owners like to argue.
100% of technical specifications are implemented without delays
Below is a sampling of projects with a quick and efficient implementation.
- 146% increase in traffic after 6 months (Coincidence? I don’t think so);
- 270% increase in traffic after 12 months;
- 581% increase in traffic after 24 months;
Hail to the 34% of programmers who coped with the implementation of technical specifications!
Overall dynamics of traffic rate fluctuations
The average dynamics of traffic fluctuations based on all the initial projects’ sampling:
Without gradation by the quality of implementation an average project gets:
- 118% increase after 12 months of promotion;
- 207% increase after 24 months of promotion;
For a better analysis of the average data without gradation by the quality of implementation, projects were divided into 2 samples with different initial traffic rate in unit time.
The relative attendance rate "100%" corresponds to the traffic rate at the time of completion of the first work stage.
SEO is no magic and cannot work miracles. It makes no sense to talk about the "death" or "inefficiency” of SEO. It's time to close the most favourite topic of SEO “pests." The task of SEO-specialists is to develop sites and make them more "understandable" for search engine in terms of structure, content, technical components. However, all of this is impossible if the customer doesn’t provide such resources as a programmer and his own will for discussion and approval of various modifications.
And what if my SEO-specialists can go without technical implementations?
Usually, if a client has nothing that needs to be implemented and there are no problems with the website development, SEO-specialist proudly recounts how much money he spends on the links. In all fairness, it should be said that sometimes it is one third of the budget or even more that is spent on links. Moreover, these links are working.
It looks like everything goes smoothly: the traffic goes up, conversions are slowly growing... It lasts until the first “lively” update from search engines. Sometimes you may get lucky: the site "survives" several updates. But sooner or later it will definitely “get caught". Then, the website is penalized, which is presented to the customer by SEO-specialists as a force majeure: "It’s nobody’s fault! I have no clue what displeased Yandex or Google robots. I will now write to them..."
And who will help to lift the sanctions? Only specialists can do that. So, a frightened client waits for another six months until SEO specialist removes the purchased links and the next update lifts the filter. In future, this story repeats itself and may last for many years until the business community realizes that there is another way - much more time-consuming but many times more profitable in the long run.
Why is it all happening? Besides the "tradition" of SEO-conservatives to buy links, there is also another reason for this: it is much easier for specialists simply to buy links.
Why should they strain themselves and build a new website structure, select semantics or tens of thousands queries, convince the client of the need for the website major changes and push its developer, when they can just run the project in any automatic promotion system and do nothing?
But honestly, what would you choose if you were a SEO-specialist: make money without spending time and fraying your nerves, or constantly force yourself to think and work? It is the unwillingness to work hard under the new rules of SEO market, which still nurtures the culture of SEO-conservatives? As Denis Cherkesov said: "Beef supply on our market had been shaping the demand for a long time and not the other way around". That is why there are so many clients willing to sponsor this [SEO of the past].
Before you contact the agency for SEO promotion, please ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I ready to wait for the first results for at least 6 months?
- Am I willing to delve into the process of improving my site performance?
- Am I ready to trust the professionals and to implement their recommendations regarding changes to my website?
- Am I willing to provide additional resources for the timely and
high-quality implementation of technical aspects of
If there is at least one “no” answer – hold back from search engine optimization. However, having decided to go on a long and complicated SEO-trip, be sure: your courage will be rewarded. Moreover, SEO-promotion – is the second best ROI channel after the email-marketing.
P.S. For SEO-agencies
The purpose of this article - is to convey, in a clear and understandable way, a simple message: «SEO requires the implementation of technical site improvements». We are sure that the entire market will benefit from the client's understanding of this simple idea. Therefore, we want to appeal to the agencies.
Please, write in the comments below – who is willing to team up and work in a concerted effort in order to make the market aware that clients need to work on the website? Netpeak’s and many other agencies’ resources in this fragmented market are not sufficient to bring this idea to every potential customer.
Let's jointly clean up the Augean stables of links, manipulations with behavioral factors, rankings and other stuff.
Let's do everything to rid SEO market of the old traditions venerated by SEO-conservatives and finally move out of the shamans’ tents into the business centers.
Let’s get done with the old link-based [SEO of the past].